Irish holiday destinations don't have to be a last resort and Carraroe beach is just one of the amazing spots to visit, writes Peter Stears
We all know our country is beautiful. We’re the Emerald Isle; every time you fly above Ireland all you can see is fields of green. What's even more gorgeous about our island is our beaches and coastlines, particularly along the west coast, or the Wild Atlantic Way as it’s known, where there are some spectacular beaches as well as some hidden gems.
 
One such hidden gem is the coral beach at Carraroe. I'm a huge fan of beaches and have been on golden sand beaches, volcanic sand beaches and even red sand beaches. Yet the most intriguing of them all is the coral beach, tucked away nicely into the coastline of county Galway.
 
I've travelled to Carraroe every February for the past two years with the Sub-Aqua club in DCU. February is a very cold month and without the wetsuit on I'd be sure to freeze to death, but there is something that is intrinsically appealing about this beach.  
      
A coral beach is like no other: there are no hidden boulders or rocks for you to crush you little toe on, no jellyfish bobbing on top and no razor-sharp stones just waiting for you to step on them. Any sharp edges on the coral has been eroded away by the sea, and after sand, it is quite an orthopaedic material to walk on.
 
As for the sea and swimming conditions, it can be quite choppy during the winter months but get a warm sunny day here and I have no doubt that this small beach could compete with the best of them around the world.
 
With regards to the actual town, it has a genuine holiday town feel about it without the commercialisation. There are plenty of holiday houses available and the one we pick every year is four bedrooms with 6 beds and can sleep 10 people. The house also has a large living/dining room and a big kitchen, and a back garden for BBQs, the perfect location to chill out with friends.
 
The town consists of one main road where you will find a few small shops and of course, the chipper, the pub, and the nightclub. The pub has a traditional feel to it with friendly locals, comfortable, cosy seating, and a stage for live music bands to play. Walking home from the pub in the middle of the night breathing in fresh country air, surrounded by your friends makes you really appreciate moments such as those.
 
When it's time for a night out dancing, the local nightclub is an experience to say the least. The nightclub is set up in the local community hall, where everything from town meetings to children's summer camps have taken place; only with a bar and a DJ area installed. It is the type of place where the bouncer is your mate’s dad, the bartender is your cousin and you know everyone inside it because you went to school with them all.
 
As an outsider, you will definitely stand out, but the locals are just your standard mix of people that go to clubs. Taking the trip down to the club is definitely worth the experience, and there is a shuttle bus that runs from outside of the pub to the club for five euro if you don't feel like walking.
 
There are many great places for students to escape to around Ireland for a few days away. If you find yourself free during the summer I would recommend Carraroe. It is relatively close to Galway city, just 40 minutes drive out, but just far enough out that it is secluded. If you and your friends want to find somewhere slightly out of the way, with large holiday homes at very cheap prices, a true country feel to it, friendly locals and a bizarre nightclub then Carraroe is your place to go.
 
If you find yourself there during the summer, then you will be treated to a truly unique and gorgeous beach. Get your snorkels, and sandals out and go for it. Ireland is a haven of fantastic beaches and picturesque countryside, make sure you make the most out of your home country.